Ernie opens well in Canada

Ernie Els used his experience of national open championships around the world to slip into second place after the first round of the RBC Canadian Open at Shaughnessy Golf and Country Club in Vancouver.

He carded a two-under-par 68 to trail American Kris Blanks by one on a course that had the rough very punitive, and it came in for much comment from the players.

“You know, it’s Canada’s National Open,” said Els, “and I’ve played many a national open and Scottish Opens, British Opens, South African Opens. You know, this is the way a national open should be played. It should be played as tough as possible on a very stern test, and that’s what you’ve got here.”

He started well, regarding par as his friend and staying out of trouble, and that set him up for a round which gave him more satisfaction than his golf has given him recently.

“The start on the first hole, that’s a beauty there,” he said. “Hit a good three-wood down the fairway, and hit a five-iron into the middle of the green. That was the start I needed, two good swings.

“And then the golf course gave me a birdie on the second, and I didn’t drive it very well. Got away with a good break. Made a good par save on three and had a good start, one-under through three holes. I just tried to keep it there,” he added.

And putting is something that has been bugging him all year. “From the US Open I’ve been playing with this longer putter, and it’s starting to feel really good,” he said. “I could have made a couple more today but feeling a lot more solid over the ball.”

So, for Els, it’s a step in the opposite direction to the disappointment of his recent form. “All in all, just a solid round of golf, so good start for my tournament,” he said.

He could really do with his first top-10 of the season.

Charl Schwartzel pulled back a poor start to finish one-over-par, and Louis Oosthuizen was five-over.

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